Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Real Beginning

This article comes from Greg Laurie and is an excellent Christmas read. It points out several things:

- The prophecies around Jesus' first coming.

- How "the other side" fought so hard to prevent Jesus' birth, life and mission on earth (we can see the same fight regarding the existence of the nation of Israel and the Jewish population which is ongoing to this day). 

- How "the other side" will never win, ultimately God's plan will always be accomplished. Always. That is one of the many reasons we can always look to the Cross and all of its promises. 






The Christmas story does not start in the Gospel of Luke or Matthew. Rather, the Christmas story begins much further back.
We think of B.C. as meaning “before Christ,” and indeed it does. But we also know that Jesus did not begin his existence when he was born in a manger in Bethlehem. Jesus Christ, being God and being a part of the Trinity, is pre-existent. He is eternal. And so when we celebrate his birth in the manger in Bethlehem, we’re celebrating the fact that Jesus Christ came to this world as a man. But he has always been and always will be. Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last” (Revelation 1:11 NKJV).

The prophet Isaiah summed it up well when he said, “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
That gives you the story of the arrival of Jesus from both heaven and Earth’s perspective. Unto us a Child is born – it is the story of a birth.Unto us a Son is given – it is the story of a departure from heaven.
From heaven’s perspective, the Son left glory and came to walk among us and breathe our air and live our life and then die our death. From Earth’s perspective, God came to us as a man who was Deity in diapers, who was God Almighty as a helpless baby.
But of course, the first Christmas passage is not found in the Gospels; it is back in the book of Genesis. It is when God drew the battle line after Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit. God put the devil on notice and said to him there was coming one who would bruise his head, but he would bruise his heel (see Genesis 3:15). In other words, God was saying, “Satan, I am going to send the Messiah, and he is going to crush you. You will bruise his heel, but he will crush your head.” So the devil knew Jesus was coming. And he did everything in his power to stop Christmas.

Back in the book of Exodus, we read of Pharaoh having all the Jewish baby boys put to death. Satan knew the Messiah would come through Israel, through the Jewish people, so we see Pharaoh trying to stop the Jews. Effectively, the devil was trying to stop the Messiah from coming. But God overruled and delivered Moses, who ended up delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt.
Fast-forward to the book of Esther, and we find Haman, who wants to have all the Jews put to death. He erected gallows for that purpose, but ended up hanging on them himself because of the courage of Queen Esther, who stood up for her people.
Fast-forward to the New Testament. Without question, 6 B.C. was a lousy time to live in Judea. Israel was living under the tyranny of Rome and their puppet governor, King Herod. Then those mysterious wise men arrived from the East, saying they were looking for the one who was born the King of the Jews. Now that was the last thing you wanted to say to a guy like Herod, because that was Herod’s title. He was the king of the Jews. They were basically saying, “We are looking for the King of the Jews – and it is not you.”
So Herod determined where the Messiah was to be born, which was Bethlehem, and then had all the baby boys there slaughtered. Again, the devil was trying to stop Christmas or, more specifically, trying to stop the arrival of the Messiah. But his plans were thwarted.
Then the great story starts to unfold at the beginning of Luke’s Gospel. The people of God had not heard from him for 400 years – not one prophet standing up and delivering God’s message, not one angelic appearance, not even a single miracle. There was just a stony silence. And it was a day like any other day when the supernatural invaded the natural.
There was Zechariah, an aged man, doing his duty as a priest in the temple. But that was the day God chose to send an angel to deliver a message to Zacharias:
“Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. … He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous – to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:13–17 NIV)
Meanwhile, people were waiting outside. Where is Zechariah? He’s taking a long time! … Did he die in there? … I told you he was too old to send in. … I am not going in after him. You go in after him. … Not me. All of the sudden, Zechariah emerged. Something had happened, they realized, because he couldn’t speak.
Game on. The Messiah was coming. As one commentator put it, “Great plans, laid in eternal ages past, now began to activate.” The birth of Jesus Christ divided human time. Rome had established control over much of the world at this point, and with the absence of war, many people were rediscovering art and literature and philosophy. People were asking questions. They were talking about human destiny and the purpose and meaning of life.
“But when the right time came,” the Bible says, “God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children” (Galatians 4:4–5 NLT).
We have “The 12 Days of Christmas,” but here are the 12 words of Christmas: A Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.




5 comments:

Caver said...

Outstanding post Brother....words and meaning to truly contemplate in all their simplicity and complexity at the same time.

A Child is born....

Thank You Father!
Thank You Jesus!

For being alive at such a time as this.....so close.

WV, congratulations on the expectation of a double dose of happiness and Joy.

Anonymous said...

I have a question that is somewhat related to this post. We know that Satan knew that the Savior would come from Israel. We also know that the Anti-Christ will claim to be God. Is there any scriptural basis for dismissing the possibility that the Anti-Christ will be of Jewish descent? The Jews are looking for a Jewish Messiah. What better way to deceive the elect than with a false Christ who is of Jewish heritage. Such a person would be in a unique position to negotiate a peace treaty with Israel, especially if Israel trusted him as one of their own. It seems like the kind of perversion that Satan would enjoy. Regardless, I am praying for Israel...and the US. God Bless you and this blog.

Mrs.C said...

This is the best answer to your question. Quoting Zola Levitt, a Jewish Beleiver who is now with our Lord.

"The Bible does not say explicitly that the Antichrist will be Jewish. Passages used in Genesis, Daniel, and Revelation may, at best, vaguely imply so. For example, Daniel 11:37 says in the King James Version, “Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.” But the word for God in the Hebrew is not “Elohim”, but “elohai”, meaning “gods”, or idols. The passage simply says that the Antichrist will not worship the idols his fathers worshiped, and this is likely since he makes a pretense of being the true God, the God of Israel. The Bible is clear, however, that the Antichrist will be a Gentile of Roman origin. Bible typology shows that the Antichrist will be Gentile. For instance, the book of Daniel portrays the Syrian Gentile Antiochus Epiphanes as a type of the Antichrist (see Daniel 8:9–14; 11:1–35). As a matter of consistency, persecutors of the Jews throughout their history have been Gentiles — Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Titus, the Moslems, the Crusaders, the Inquisitors, and the modern Arabs. Since the Antichrist comes with a covenant for Israel to sign, it would appear that he is an outsider, since Israel wouldn’t have to sign a covenant with one of its own.
Another argument for the Antichrist being Gentile comes from Biblical imagery. Whenever the word “sea” is symbolically used is Scripture, especially in the book of Revelation, it is a symbol of the Gentile nations. Since the “Beast” of Revelation 13:1–10 arises out of the sea, this points to the Antichrist being a Gentile."

Mrs.C said...

Continued...

"Daniel 9:26–27 makes it certain that the Antichrist will be of Roman origin. The “he” in verse 27 of Daniel 9 refers to the same person who is “the prince that shall come” in verse 26. The Antichrist is of the same nationality as the people who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, which the Romans did in 70 A.D. The Antichrist will therefore be of Roman Gentile origin, not Jewish."

Kimberly Reynolds said...

Excellent response. Thank you so much for taking the time to explain all this, Mrs. C. I truly appreciate it. God bless and Merry Christmas. :)